Welsh, Erinllys, or Eurinllys, Fendigedi, Nele, Ysgol Grist, Ysgol Fair, Creu-lys bendiged, Dail y trwch, Llys per-figedd. - French, Millepertuis. - German, Johanniskraut. - Dutch, St. Jans kruid. - Italian, Pilatro. - Spanish, Cora-zoncillo. - Portuguese, Melfurada. - Russian, Sweroboi.
Painful are the thoughts, manifold the associa-tions, induced by a consideration of this string of names:- names which bear us backward on the stream of time to those days of old, when the human mind, groping in a moral darkness, was yet unable to attain to the truth, and substituted super-stition for faith. Still, there are some who re-gret that those "good old times" are passed, and would fain disbelieve the great advancement made by man in virtue and moral worth, as well as in wisdom and knowledge. But the high standard of public opinion at the present day, and the happy union of religious feeling with good sense, sufficiently disprove that superiority, which has been attributed (by a partial and borne view), to those times when men were misled by idle traditions and foolish legends, and put more trust in human dogmas and authorities, than in the pure and simple precepts of religion. It was then that the legitimate objects of faith were hidden from the view; the lamp of religion burnt low, or her candle was, by heart-less ceremonies, "set under a bushel;" and the intellect was darkened by barbarous fancies and credulity.
Mournful, indeed, is the recollection of the de-grading and spirit-slaying superstitions which have, at various periods, enslaved the human race; and yet none can earnestly examine them without feel-ing conscious of the sterling value of the first feeling from which they sprang. For as obstinacy is but firmness, displayed in a bad cause, or with a want of self-command; so is superstition but faith, with-out the teaching, and the light, which should direct it, and centre it in its legitimate objects. We grieve when we think of the dark superstitions of the past; and most of all when we see them, un-happily, still lingering in the world; when we see men on whom the light of science, the rays of expanding intellect, and, above all, the sun of the Gospel, should have shone, yet groping darkly in the shade, and believing tales which we only con-nect with the period of the dark ages. Stern is the assertion that the history of superstition is the history of the human mind, but its sternness springs from the truth; and though an unwillingness to speak harsh things, and a too compromising tender-ness for errors which are, in truth, but the offspring of ignorance or knavery, may produce a tendency to shrink from the examination and assertion of such facts, it can in no way lessen the sad reality of their existence.
Yet I am far from insensible to the poetic sense of beauty pervading many of the more harmless of these, otherwise, dreary beliefs; and, if ever this charm be allowed to cover the more repulsive qua-lities of superstition, it is when a grateful admiration of the works of the Maker of all created things, a childlike trust in the benefits to be derived from their use, has invested them with, or rather has arrogated for them, a sort of holy power, an inhe-rent virtue such as our forefathers attributed to the herb tutsan, and which they faithfully expressed in its various names.
Dedicating it to St. John the Baptist, on whose night demons were supposed to be unusually ac-tive, people of old summed up all which they be-lieved it capable of effecting in the single name of "grace of God." While in that of tutsan, they ex-pressed its qualities: for the word is simply a cor-ruption of tout sain, all healing; or of toute sainte, all holy, for it was believed to have a power of exorcism, so that no evil spirit or goblin of any kind could endure its presence. Hence, probably, its name of Fuga doemonum; though some writers assure us it is a purely medical cognomen, indicating its remedial power in melancholy, and hypochondriacal complaints; hence also its Welsh appellation of y fendigedi, the blessed; and that yet more expressive name, Creu-lys bendiged, the blessed herb of an earnest cry, or prayer; a name which forcibly pourtrays to the imagination the strong faith with which the plant was regarded at a time when the fear of evil spirits was no trifling terror. This accounts for the reverential awe with which this last name is still mentioned by the Welsh peasant, even though he has long learned to place his faith far above any created thing.
From the feeling too with which this plant was viewed, arose the name of Ysgol Grist, the school, or ladder (for, very significantly, the Welsh language has but the one word for the two things) of Christ: which was afterwards, in the gradual engraftment of idol-worship on the truths of Christianity, converted into Ysgol Fair, the school or ladder of Mary* While Bail y Trwch has the double signification of the leaf of the lame, or of the desolate and unhappy man.
*The st. john's wort.